It’s All in How You Say It: Copywriting Tips for Real Estate Pros


Heat Level: Mild: These tips are beginner-friendly.

Bottom Line: Good copy matters everywhere - online, in print, in listings, and more! 

Do This: Keep it simple and make a good impression by...

  • Making your content straightforward and easy to read.

  • Remember: details matter, so always proofread.

  • Avoid overused and cliche phrases when writing about listings.

If you’re a working professional in any field, you need to master basic writing skills. 

Obviously, we’re big believers in content marketing, which means we’re big fans of strong writing. But while our Hot Sheet team has multiple professional writers cracking down on comma usage and grammatical snafus, not everyone has that kind of help. So what’s a real estate pro to do?

First and foremost, let’s be clear: if you’re a working professional in any field, you need to master basic writing skills. You don’t need to be the next Ernest Hemingway, but you do need to know how to send an appropriate email. For real estate pros, this is even more important. Think about how much of your writing is out for public viewing. From property descriptions to social media posts, copy is everywhere and it’s often the first impression people will have of you and your brand. So today, we’re sharing a few tips for keeping your copy strong on all platforms.

Remember: less is more.

Ever read a book by Charles Dickens? Actually read it...not skimmed it or used Spark/Cliff Notes. Very few people have. Why? Because he was paid by the word (or so the legend goes) and therefore used 20 words when 2 would have done the job. Do you like reading books like that? No. So why would anyone else? 

Another reason to keep your content short, especially online? Web users skim. In fact, as of 2008, online users read at most 28% of the words on a page during an average visit...20% was the more likely estimate. And that was 11 years ago! 

Make your 8th-grade English teacher proud. 

When you’re a kid learning how to use the English language, using big words is the ticket to an A+. But let’s be’re not winning points for using them nowadays. When writing any kind of public-facing materials, you need to write to the widest possible audience. Aiming for an 8th grade reading level is generally the golden standard. 

“How do I know if I’m at an 8th grade level?” you ask. One easy way is to use the Hemingway Editor to proof your writing. We’re big fans here! It’s a free site that you copy and paste your content into. Hemingway then gives you a grade reading level and highlights issues like long or confusing sentences, passive voice, unnecessary or complicated words, and overuse of adverbs. 

Fun fact: this article rates at a 5th-grade reading level on Hemingway! 

Speaking of adverbs, one of the best ways to tighten up your writing is to watch your adverb use (words that describe a verb, like quietly or quickly). Here and there they can be useful. But as a rule, strong, active verbs go much further. 

The devil’s in the details.

The best way to make sure you’re keeping your writing simple is to build in enough time to proofread at least three times. Each time you walk away then go back to a piece of writing, you’ll notice new words that can be trimmed or sentences that can be simplified. 

Of course, the ideal is to have time for multiple proofs by multiple people for every piece of writing that leaves your desk. But that’s not always possible! Even when you’re on a tight deadline, there are easy ways to look for issues in your written work.

First and foremost, always always ALWAYS proofread it at least once. And when you’re proofreading, read your words out loud. Seriously. By reading out loud, you hear what’s actually on the page. When you read to yourself, your brain ends up filling in missing words because you know what you meant to say.

If you’re writing something for social media or a platform that doesn’t have spell check built in, I’d recommend either drafting the text in a Word doc or pasting it into one before publishing. It only takes a few extra seconds to copy and paste. You could also copy/paste into something like the Hemingway app, which will look for all kinds of issues. 

A word on word choice…

See what we did there? We wanted to end this with a quick (hopefully helpful) look at words and phrases real estate pros should avoid when writing property descriptions or any other marketing for listings. 

Because let’s be honest: everyone knows that “quaint” means outdated and “cozy” means tiny, so please, just stop the games!

Words and phrases to avoid:

“Must sell” or “Priced to sell” -’re telling me this owner is in a hurry, and I can use their desperation low-ball them?

“Cozy” or “Starter-home” - Cool, this is a tiny house then…

“Fixer-upper” - I am not JoAnna Gaines. This means that upon finishing the daunting task of buying a home and moving, I now must spend a ton of money on repairs.

“Boasts” - As in “boasts an eat-in kitchen.” Tell me, wherever did you find a talking house?

“Will sell fast” or “Hot property” - ...or really any other time-based, high-pressure labeling. I’m looking to buy a house, not a pack of gum. It’s not a spur-of-the-moment kind of decision!

Any other general “fluffery” - Like “fantastic!” or “charming” or anything else that doesn’t tell me what the property has to offer. If you only have fluff, I’m going to wonder why you don’t have real, useful things to say.

Words to use instead:

Actual descriptions of the property. 

Seriously, it’s that simple. Buyers want to know what the listing has to offer in as much detail as possible. So instead of looking for creative, fluffy terms to throw into the mix, use strong, clear, active language to tell people about the great things they can expect at your listing. Your writing should be so clear and descriptive that the reader can actually see themselves walking through it - and making an offer!

A few more tips for killer real estate writing...

Focus on them. Get to the point that the reader wants - why it matters to them. Instead of focusing on your perspective, your experience, etc., frame it as how the reader will benefit. Instead of, “I’ve been doing this for decades” frame your qualifications as, “Your home will sell faster and for money when you tap into my decades of experience.”

Start Strong. If your first sentence doesn’t grab their attention, they’re goners. Put your most interesting, compelling information in the first sentence.

Add value with words. Zillow did a survey of 24,000 home descriptions to determine which words helped homes sell for more. Here are the 15 words that added the most value - use them sparingly, with good taste.

Use calls to action. In a hot market like this, buyers need to feel a sense of urgency. Close your agent remarks, ads, etc. with instructions on what the reader should do next - call, email, or schedule a viewing.

Bottom Line

Good copy matters! From property descriptions to social media posts, taking the time to proof and think about the words you’re using is a key way to set yourself apart from the pack. So before hitting send, post, or any other quick publish button, stop, reread, and make sure you’re saying what you mean to.

Think you’re already at pro at these tips? Then stick around for our guide to SEO copywriting to take your writing and online presence to the next level!

Jess Clair self-portrait on Mount Washington
Jess Clair is the Marketing and Sales Project Manager at Joyce, Inc. in Pittsburgh, PA.
Working with ListingManager allows Jess to explore an alternate reality where she could one day own a house instead of renting. When she’s not focused on her daily to-do lists, Jess enjoys HBO binges, gourmet lattes, and playing with her dog.

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